Friday 21 February 2020

M&S Reveal their brand new Hedge End Store!

Press visit with Southampton Bloggers - please see disclaimer.

I've always had quite the soft spot for Marks & Spencer - it's the home of big, comfy pants, the most gorgeous dresses and of course, the Dine for Two so I couldn't wait to explore their all-new concept store that had recently unveiled itself in Hedge End. 

The store's new look has been designed with customers and local families at its heart, helping to make shopping as convenient and inspirational as possible. Highlight features include everything from an Instagram-worthy rotating pizza oven to a greengrocer style Fresh Market and a frozen section which has tripled in size. In a UK-first, the store features M&S' first-ever Pasta Evangelists concession, with a dedicated pasta chef making fresh artisanal pasta dishes in the new and improved Deli every day.

I recently spent an evening at the new store to experience it for myself and I walked out completely blown away and wanting to move in. 

Our evening started with a talk from the manager who completely exuded the passion Marks and Spencers are trying to create and as we walked around the store that evening, we met more and more staff who were just so excited and passionate about their jobs. It was really refreshing to witness and M&S should be so proud of the members of staff who are fronting up the brand at Hedge End. 

After our talk ended and we sample some nibbles and maybe a Percy Pig Muffin it was time to explore the store and see first hand what was available. 

Our first stop was the Cook With Us counter, you may have seen this branding in your own M&S Food stores as they've rolled out handy sauces and mixes to make cooking at home even easier. The counter within Hedge End features Create Your Own Tray Bake where you can choose exactly what you want for dinner, have it prepared right in front of you and then you just need to pop it in the oven when you're home. 

The traybakes come in three different sizes so whether it's a meal for one, two or four - you just pay for the quantity you need. I think this would be such a handy thing to buy after a long day out with the kids or a quick meal for one after work. 

Next up we had the Pasta Evangelists concession where you can choose from the most delicious and freshest pasta. We sampled some on the night and it was incredible! 

Again, you can choose exactly what you want and walk away with it to just heat up at home. Makes those busy days that little bit more bareable when you know you have something quick and delicous to enjoy without any of the faff. 

Just along from Pasta Evangelists you'll find the most spectular pizza oven you ever did see. The disco ball rotating pizza over cooks fresh pizza for you while you wait. There's only three of these and one is reportedly David Beckham's! 

Sustainability and what more we can do was a big talking point of the evening and it was great to see M&S leading the way with some of their new concepts within store. The most noteable has to be the refill station featuring rice, grains, cereals and even chocolate. 

How many of us buy packets of rice or pasta to pour into a pot at home? Something such as the refill station cuts way that useless plastic that is used for rice, pasta and so much more. Instead of picking up a packet of the shelf, you can use the paper bags provided or bring in your pots from home and refill them there and then. There was such a huge selection and it would be great to see this rolled out more widely across all supermarkets. 

As well as the refill station, a lot of the products are now naked - the bread as seen in the image above comes as you'd find it in a bakery however there is the option to have it packaged if you want it to be. Also, at the end of the day - any bread that is left over is made into garlic bread, frozen and sold which cuts down on waste even more. 

The fruit and veg is mostly loose and again you have the option of it packed should you so wish but it was great to see so much fresh food completely free of plastic just like it would be at a greengrocers. 

There are also more try before you buy options, M&S are known for their taster stands and they've since included coffee and wine. How many of us have purchased a bottle of wine, hated the taste and poured it away? Being able to try a sample before you buy is a great way to come away with what you actually want. 

Just don't forget your Sparks card as you'll need that for your free samples!

I had such a ball with the guys at Marks & Spencers and skipped out happy with a bag brimming full of treats and my bag of chocolate pretzels I filled up on at the refill station. 

Who needs cereal when you can have chocolate pretzels? 

Marks & Spencer Hedge End is open daily 8am-10pm (Sunday trading times apply) and can be found on Tollbar Way, Hedge End, Southampton SO30 2UH. 

It's totally worth a visit, I could actually spend hours in there and next time I have a toddler free afternoon, I will be! What's better than a look around a supermarket child-free? 

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